Professor Virajini Medagedara Karunaratne delivered 7th Inaugural Lecture Series “Diving into Traditional Costume Fashions: A Discourse on our Heritage”

Professor. Virajini Medagedara Karunaratne presented the 7th inaugural lecture which was initiated by the Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Moratuwa on 31ST March 2022 at 3.00 through zoom and Facebook live. The introduction to the speaker has delivered by Former Dean, Faculty of Architecture, Vidya Jyothi Emeritus Professor, Nimal De Silva.

In her lecture focused more on how traditional costumes became apparent in our culture, significance of unique sculpting technique, where fabric molds on the body defining its three dimensional form and how the costume would be explored in terms of an elaborate tradition blended with important visual and cultural expressions and a distinctive craftsmanship that can be transferred to contemporary product design through modern draping techniques. She talked about how the creative advantage of manipulation benefits designers who can discover new silhouettes and styles irrespective of trends. Such styles would become the new ‘classics’ of our wardrobes and also bring timeless value. She argued that the fashion process represents a dynamic mechanism by which the object ultimately emerges as an accepted or rejected fashion. To understand this board phenomena she proposes the “TRADITION” as the source of inspiration to produce a novel garment. She highlighted as an example of how renowned South Asian and East Asian fashion designers emphasized traditional characteristics and striking the best balance of tradition and modernity was also regarded as important in producing novel ideas. In visually she forwarded the concept of tradition to modernity to the audience. She defended the need to identify the style authentication of costume fashions since the style is becoming the distinct selling point of fashion in the contemporary fashion arena. She stressed how the style of fashions not only assist consumers in making fashion decisions, but also to bring them to a good taste in life. Beyond that Prof. Virajini enthusiastically invited more designers to add to the conversation through investigation and discovery to face the stringent requirements of the garment industry.

Professor Virajini Medagedara Karunaratne was one of the best product of University of Peradeniya and she holds First Class Bachelor's Honors Degree in Fine Arts and was awarded the first Mr & Mrs Ukkubandara Ranathunga Gold Medal for most outstanding graduand for best performances and obtaining the highest average marks in Fine Arts at the General convocation held in year 2000. She was awarded the first PhD in Integrated Design in Sri Lanka for the thesis “Concepts and Processes of Generating and Communicating Meanings in Fashion of Dress'' from the University of Moratuwa. In her doctoral studies she developed 6 theories pertaining to how the meaning of fashion communication took place. Prior to obtaining PhD she completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Arts Design & Communication from the Center for Learning and Teaching in Arts and Design of the University of the Arts London, UK in 2006.

She authored 2 scholarly books and co-authored one text book. Her research has been appreciated in the form of research excellence awards at University of Moratuwa from consecutive years 2016/2017/2018/2019 and 2020. Her noteworthy national contribution project of introducing fashion design as a subject for national curriculum for government school under the concept of “13 year guaranteed education program of the Ministry of Education in 2018, and introducing maternity wear for the government school teachers project of the Ministry of Education in 2018 and designing the textile gallery at the technology museum at Polonnaruwa 2019 by the invitation of the government of Sri Lanka.


Her research interests span across wide areas of fashion, Fashion Theory , Culture , Tradition & Fashion History, Traditional Dress Preservation, Sustainable fashion and dye practices, Fashion Consumerism, Tradition and Modernity, Creative industries and Textile education of Sri Lanka.

She was an award winning artist , won 1 Gold Medal, 2 Silver Medals , 17 awards including 10 first places and 7 merit awards from National & International Art Competitions within 6 years. She was a past pupil of St/Joseph’s Convent, Kegalle and very short period at Maliyadeva Girls College, Kurunegala. She performed an exemplary academic and extracurricular record in the school, such as Senior Girl Guide, Senior Prefect, House Games Captain, Trumpet player of the Senior Brass band and Melodica Player in the Junior Western Band and so on. She obtained a highest rank in the Island at GCE A/L examination too.

Professor Virajini is serving as the Honorary Assistant Secretary of External Affairs at the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lankan Branch from 2019 to date and she is a Council member of RASSL which is the oldest academic Society in Sri Lanka.

She was one of the first Professors of discipline of Fashion Design in Sri Lanka and the Degree Course of Fashion Design & Product Development in the Department of Textile & Apparel Engineering at UOM.

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